MMORPG criteria

Today we’ll get some Everquest Next info. In preparation i’d like to share what i wish for in MMORPGs. This wishlist won’t be complete and some things will be subjective in their evaluation. But this might still be a good starting point for a new blog.

1. Give me a world

I dislike zoning in MMOs- it spoils the sense of size for me. In Age of Conan, i couldn’t figure out where i was at any given time. It is somewhat better in GW2, where one can imagine there are only a couple of meters (feet?) between those gates. I’d like to have a big, seamless world, the best example i know of existing in Vanguard, where the climate doesn’t change suddenly when you enter a new zone/square.

To name a few things that further contribute to the worldly feeling: fewer instanced zones, and when there are, put them in the world, no cross-shard-lfg-tool, or better yet: no lfg-tool with instant ports, cities that look and feel like cities, maybe even do away with the quest “navigator” and so on.

2. Player driven economy

A “real” economy would also be quite nice. Think EVE online: different prizes for stuff at different locations, resources that are useful throughout the crafting tiers, a degradation/loss-system for non-consumables. Of course, this economy has to be complimented by a good crafting system, where a crafter can earn money, reputation and items that are of real value. Trading and Crafting should be fully supported playstyles in a MMORPG.

3. Something to return to

There should be something players would want to return to- some piece of the virtual world that belongs to them and that they can become attached to. This could be a lot of things- player housing, companions, pets, mounts, a community- there needs to be another hook needs to be added to the level and gear grind.

4. Don’t forget the RPG

In a MMORPG not everything should be easy and streamlined- the UI should be, but skill- and other systems don’t. I’d like to encounter some NPC selling rare housing items or look for skills in the world- i’d like to use a sword to get better with it without seeing naked guys running against walls all the time (see Mortal Online). The three-way-skillsystem of World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 was easy enough, there should be something built up on that, not cut down. Rift and The secret World have gone a good first step. I want to build a character, and while the game i play should try hard to help me not to gimp my character, this should be optional and still hold as many varied character building systems as possible.

5. Be fun

With all that in mind, the game needs still to be fun, and i’m not talking about “action combat” here since strategic combat can also be very engaging. I guess this one is about polish, user interface and general look & feel.

6. Player interaction

A good, long lasting MMORPG needs to steer away from soloability. Don’t let crafters gather all needed resources by themselves or operate on their own products only. Crafters, adventurers, explorers, traders should all have some reason to need the other groups or players with the same preferred playstyle. Do away with solo instances, minimize instanced or phased areas and don’t punish group play. There should be some features or systems where you can get to know other players or even some easy way to make this interdependancy less of a hassle (buy orders, for example), but please no cross-shard-instant-teleport-dungeons.

7. A varied experience

In my version of an ideal MMORPG, there should be a variety of activities- and by that i don’t mean 10 different styles of PvE encounters, although that is at least a good step. Crafting should be an activity and not a look-at-bars-filling-up-game. Trading should involve travel, exploring shouldn’t be about achievements and fighting should include encounters that are difficult without just cranking up the level and stats of the mob. There should be group quests, group areas as well as solo quests that take a long time.

8. You need to make money somehow

The business model: i don’t care if it is subscription or free-to-play. But i don’t want to be exploited and the business model needs to fit the game. I’m actually a little sceptical when it comes to the combination of sandbox and free-to-play, but i’m open to seeing it executed well.

So, i’m excited to see how Everquest Next measures up later today. I’m pretty confident EQN will at least look good in a lot of these categories, but i expect it will be vague or less good looking regarding points 2, 6 and 8.

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